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Before Giving Metro More $$$, Tell Us If Past $$$ Well-Spent

The Washington Times' Ryan McDermott reported this past Wednesday that "Metro faces $18 billion budget shortfall in next decade."

According to McDermott:

"Metro faces an $18 billion capital deficit over the next 10 years, news that shook regional lawmakers and prompted one to suggest privatizing the long-troubled transit agency.

"In addition, the Federal Transit Administration ordered Metro to make immediate repairs to prevent fires on the subway system’s tracks, just days after issuing a safety directive with a threat of defunding and closures. The directive capped a week in which Metro’s new general manager laid out his plan for major repairs a day after the subway had suffered its eighth serious smoke-and-fire incident in two weeks.

"At Wednesday’s meeting of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans told lawmakers about the $18 billion deficit the transit agency anticipates in its capital budget over the next decade. He pleaded with them to pressure the federal government to step up its contribution to the rail system’s operating costs, adding that little else can be done to improve Metro’s financial situation.

“I can’t even take this thing and put it into bankruptcy because there’s no law that covers this,” he told the group.

"Mr. Evans, who was elected chairman of the Metro Board of Directors in January, also noted that maintenance costs will total $10 billion over the next 10 years.

“We have no way of paying for that. Nothing,” he said. “The finances are worse than the operations.”

Read the entire article for more details.

But the subsidies that Arlington County taxpayers have been paying to WMATA have been growing faster -- much faster -- than total county expenditures from the General Fund, the main revenue source for county and schools spending. From fiscal year 2001 to fiscal year 2015, which ended June 30, 2015, total expenditures increased by 5.1%. but the subsidies paid to WMATA (technically, "regional contributions transit") increased at an annual rate of 8.3%. During this same period, the annual rate of inflation was about 2.8%. Numbers based upon Table D-1, Statistical Section, of the county's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).

Put another way, if the subsidies to WMATA in fiscal year 2015 remained at the same share of total expenditures as 2001, the subsidies to WMATA in fiscal year 2015 would be $19.5 million rather than $29.9 million. That difference of $10.4 million means the real estate tax rate could be an additional 1.7 cents lower. On the so-called average Arlington County home, that would mean an annual saving of $102.

Growls readers wishing to comment on the county subsidies paid to WMATA, are urged to write to members of the Arlington County Board. Just click-on the link below:

  • Call the County Board office at (703) 228-3130

And tell them ACTA sent you.

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